Job Search Tips: How to Find Out if Hiring Managers Are Checking You Out

Henry Hirschel, a laid-off IT director, knows when hiring managers and recruiters check out his blog, LinkedIn profile and website. That helps him gauge the effectiveness of his resume and job search activities, and gives him confidence during follow-up calls and job interviews.

Whoooooosh!

That's the sound of your résumé entering the black hole known as the recruiter's inbox. When job seekers don't hear back from a recruiter or hiring manager, they figure their résumé has fallen into an abyss of disinterest.

Yet recruiters and hiring managers might be secretly checking you out."Recruiters and hiring managers pre-screen you using Google and LinkedIn before they bring you in [for an interview]," says David Perry, author of Guerilla Marketing for Job Seekers 2.0.

This is no secret to Henry Hirschel, an IT director on the hunt for a new job, who has found a way around the black hole: Using Google Analytics and triangulation techniques, he can tell if a hiring manager or recruiter has read his Wordpress blog, checked out his website or looked at his LinkedIn profile. He monitors these three web properties every day as part of his job search activities.

[ Want more job search tips? See CIO.com's Job Search Bible. ]

By studying his site traffic, Hirschel learns who's visiting his websites and whether any of the visitors arrived in response to a résumé he's sent. The traffic analysis also gives him an indication of the effectiveness of his job search techniques--not to mention a boost to his confidence.

The Importance of a Professional Web Presence

Hirschel, has been searching for a new job since he was laid off from Club One, a chain of fitness centers in the San Francisco Bay area, late last year. In this economy, an eight month job search isn't long. Joe Goodwin, president of Atlanta-based executive search firm The Goodwin Group, says that because the job market is so bad, IT leaders can expect to be unemployed for a year.

During long job hunts, the primary frustration job seekers report is not hearing back from hiring managers and recruiters after they've submitted a résumé. One of the reasons recruiters take so long to respond to a résumé is that they're doing background checks online. Hiring managers and recruiters are increasingly proceeding directly to Google and LinkedIn after finding a résumé that intrigues them, says Guerilla Job Hunting's Perry.

With LinkedIn, recruiters look for people they know who also know the candidate, says Perry, and then ask them for their opinions. That's why Hirschel spends time tuning his LinkedIn profile and writing smart blog entries—his web presence, he figures, can make or break a potential job interview.

[ For advice on improving your web presence, see Managing Your Reputation Online, How to Improve Your LinkedIn Profile: Stand Out to Employers, Recruiters and LinkedIn Profiles: Avoid the Six Most Common Mistakes. ]

Certain search keywords, such as "Henry Hirschel," "balanced scorecard," and "process improvement" also direct people to Hirschel's blog and website, he says. The fact that these search terms drive traffic to his blog and website is evidence of his success with search engine optimization (SEO) and with his personal branding efforts.

"Now I'm beginning to see a payback from having enough activity and contacts to create a network of people I can talk to on a regular basis who are working with me indirectly," says Hirschel. "The companies where I've made a personal connection, I would say between 80 percent and 90 percent of those people visit my sites. It reinforces that people are interested [in me]."

Is a Hiring Manager Checking You Out?

Sometimes Hirschel can identify who's visiting his websites down to an individual or company name. Other times, Hirschel makes educated guesses based on his knowledge of who he's sent résumés to and by "triangulating" information from Google Analytics, Wordpress and LinkedIn.

Here's how it works: LinkedIn, Wordpress and Google Analytics give him clues about who's visiting his sites. For example, LinkedIn tells him when people have checked out his profile, but it doesn't tell him exactly who—only that "someone" from a particular company, such as CXO Media, has peeked. LinkedIn has told him "someone from a marketing function in the computer network industry in the San Francisco Bay area" or "a consultant at the Palladium Group in Asia Pacific" looked at his profile.

Traffic reports from Wordpress and Google Analytics, meanwhile, tell him which domains have brought visitors to his sites. Hirschel then scans for domains of companies that he recently sent résumés to (e.g. hiringmanager@employer.com).

Hirschel also figures out which domains bring traffic to his sites using reverse IP address look-up services on the web. He gets the IP addresses from Google Analytics, loads them into the look up service, and voila, he obtains the domain.

If he finds the domain in one or more of the reports, he knows his résumé was successful in inspiring the hiring manager to look him up.

Hirschel's triangulation technique depends on his LinkedIn profile, blog and website linking back to each other; a new entry on his blog automatically gets posted to his LinkedIn profile. Hirschel sees, through the IP addresses of people who visit his sites and through the referring domains reports, that visitors often check out all of his sites. So if a hiring manager looked at his LinkedIn profile, Hirschel can match the LinkedIn domain with the domain on the Wordpress and Google Analytics reports.

The Power of Information

A visit to one or more of his sites, even if it's brief, indicates a hiring manager's interest in Hirschel. This gives Hirschel the confidence to follow-up with the hiring manager if his phone hasn't already rung.

"If I find out somebody is looking for me, that feels good," Hirschel says. "Also, it presents an opportunity to follow-up. It's very likely that it won't lead to anything, but over time it begins to pay off."

Indeed, it's paying off in a growing network of connections Hirschel has made by identifying people who visit his sites. When he calls them, he always asks how he can help them and if he can continue to follow-up with them, he says.

"That's the most valuable part," he says. "It helps build the pipeline, and your follow up calls begin to feel more comfortable because people know who you are."

Hirschel adds that knowing a prospective employer has checked out his websites enhances his confidence when he goes on job interviews. He doesn't get caught off guard when they ask him about his blog or website.

One of Hirschel's great findings is that he observes a "mushroom of activity" on his websites approximately 24 to 48 hours after updating his LinkedIn profile, posting a new blog entry, or sending out résumés-—which reveals the recruiter black hole to be somewhat of a myth.

Since he started his job search in January, Hirschel says traffic to his sites has risen steadily. He adds that it's taken six months to get all of his sites, SEO and personal branding efforts working for him, but the work is starting to pay off—in increased interest in him, in job leads and new contacts, and in a boost to his self-confidence.

In other words, the website stats indicate that his job search efforts are working. People are responding to his résumé by going to his websites, thus offsetting the frustration and despair that come from not getting calls back.

"It's huge," he says of the impact the traffic has on his spirits. "You have no idea."

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